COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Reuters) - If Russia could build Sochi in seven years to host the 2014 Winter Games, they can fix their doping problems in nine months and compete at the Rio Olympics, former WADA chief Dick Pound said on Tuesday.
The International Association of Athletics Federation banned Russia from the sport last week after a stunning report by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent commission, led by Pound, had detailed alleged unprecedented doping offences.
The explosive report accused Russia’s state security services of colluding with the country’s athletics federation to enable athletes to freely dope with confidence that test results would be suppressed.
The report also uncovered evidence of the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs in Russian athletics and allegations of corruption and collusion by Russian and IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) officials.
Despite damning evidence and calls to have Russian athletes barred from the track and field competition in Rio, Pound made it clear there was a road back to the 2016 Summer Games for Russia if officials there made the necessary changes.
After spending $51 billion and moving mountains to transform Sochi into a glittering Olympic venue for the 2014 Winter Games, Pound felt that tearing down and rebuilding the country’s corrupt anti-doping program should be a straightforward task.
“Russia built Sochi in seven years so this is child’s play,” said Pound, after briefing the WADA executive committee on his commission’s findings and recommendations.
“All you need is some direction from the political authorities and say, ”look, RUSADA (Russia Anti-Doping Agency) is independent and the lab is independent and anybody who doesn’t make that happen is in trouble’.
“The same with coaches, you say, ”folks the old Soviet system is over, we’re not going to do that anymore and if that is your method of coaching don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out’.
“I don’t think you will get the culture fixed in nine months but you can do actions that will come to the same result,” added Pound.
The WADA foundation board will meet on Wednesday and is widely expected to approve recommendations made in the independent commission report and officially decertify RUSADA and the Moscow lab which processed blood and urine samples from Russian athletes on behalf of the athletics federation.
The world governing body of athletics (IAAF) also announced a five-person inspection team which will monitor the clean-up process in Russia.
Norwegian anti-doping expert Rune Andersen, who is heading the probe, told Reuters he did not rule out the chance of Russia putting their house in order in time for them to compete in the Aug. 5-21 Rio Games.
”We said we’ll show you the road out of this and it’s up to you whether you take it,“ said Pound. ”We can’t force you but you’re not going to like what we say about the things we found.
”So you can either fight the findings or say, ‘ok we’ve got to change’. If they want to be there for Rio they’ve got to really act. They’ve got to bite the bullet and go full speed ahead to really get all this done in time for Rio.
“If they start fighting over everything then fine, take your time, all the time you want but you are not going to work on your tan (in Brazil) next summer.”
Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes